A situation report on the deaths of 106 wild horses in the Canon City Wild Horse Facility said some of the wild animals were suffering from severe pneumonia and either died from respiratory distress or had to be euthanized.

Critics such as the American Wild Horse Campaign, the nation’s leading wild horse advocacy group opposed to roundups and holding facilities, said the Bureau of Land Management failed to protect the horses by having them vaccinated — even though they had been in their care for months.

“We cannot continue to round up wild horses from their native habitats, cram them into holding pens and expect a good outcome for the wild horses or the taxpayers who are funding this broken system. This horrible situation should serve as a wake up call for Congress and our state leaders to demand reform at the Bureau of Land Management, which operates this mismanaged federal program,” said Scott Wilson, American Wild Horse Campaign board member.

The report by the BLM noted that most of the wild horses are up-to-date on their flu/rhino vaccinations, but in two particular holding pens, the West Douglas horses impacted by the outbreak had received only one shot, were unvaccinated or only recently received a booster 10 days before the outbreak.

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The BLM said it believes there are several complications related to the deaths, which first started happening April 23.

“Contributing factors include a history of gather and removal of West Douglas horses after a severe wildfire in their herd area, severe winds and dust storms in the area in the days before the outbreak. The West Douglas horses had been in the facility for about nine months but are still unsettled, flighty as a group and easily disturbed in the pens,” the report said.

More than 400 West Douglas horses were rounded up last summer from a region that is not part of a herd management area because they were chased there from the Oil Springs Fire near Rangely.

There are 2,550 horses at the facility, which remains under quarantine.

Biosecurity measures have been put in place in an attempt to stop further spread of the outbreak.

A complicating factor is the affected horses are wild and cannot be treated without use of hydraulic squeeze chute systems, which risks further spreading the illness.

The agency is weighing the administration of antibiotics in watering troughs.